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Chainsaw

How to Choose a Chainsaw

Chainsaw Buying Guide

150515-Chainsaws

Chainsaws are among the fastest cutting tools available today. They come in a wide variety of designs to accomplish different tasks. Keep reading to learn what to look for and how to determine the best design for your intended chainsaw uses. No matter if you’re a logger, landscaper or a homeowner, a chainsaw can save you hours of work for each task.


Arbor Chainsaws and Polesaws

7A782192-80EE-4E38-A059-8ABACFBF6C4AArbor chainsaws are used in landscaping applications to quickly remove limbs from trees. They’re designed so you can start them without having to place them on the ground and hold them beneath your feet, as you do with most other types of chainsaws. These saws are small and light enough that you can use them while you balance on a ladder.

Note that arbor saws are the only models of saw that are designed to be used up in trees, and they require extensive training to make sure you’re using them correctly and safely.

Polesaws are the longest of all chainsaw sizes, and have a shaft that’s several feet long attached to a bar with a cutting chain. Like arbor saws, the actual bar is very short, usually around a foot long. You use polesaws to cut limbs off, but unlike arbor saws, you get to stand firmly on the ground while you work.


Bucking Chainsaws

A458E21A-6A54-4A6A-9429-65AB7AB13380Bucking saws are larger than arbor saws and can run chains over mid-sized bars. These models are the types of chainsaw used to cut felled trees or other wood into smaller pieces, often for use as firewood. If you need a model that’s fairly lightweight that you can use over time for fast results, bucking saws are ideal.

While you can use felling saws to cut up firewood, bucking saws are more ergonomic and easier to use. Their engines are smaller and not designed for extensive logging projects. Bucking saws are ideal for most city-dwelling or suburban homeowners.


Felling Chainsaws

Felling saws are among the most powerful of all types of chainsaws. They tend to have very long bars; in some cases, they can support bars of over three feet in length. You use felling saws to cut down entire trees. The power required for such heavy-duty work means felling saws are usually the largest, and loudest, of all chainsaw models.

Felling saws can also be used for chopping firewood, just like bucking saws. The main difference is size. If you live or work on a large area, consider a farm and ranch saw, which is powerful enough to chop down medium-sized trees, yet light enough so you can cut firewood without getting tired. Ranch and farm saws are designed to run for long periods of time.


Chainsaw Comparison

Types of chainsaws

Arbor

Bucking

Fellin

Polesaws

Usage Tree limbs Firewood Felling trees Tree limbs
Size Small, bars around a foot long Medium, bars around two feet long Large, bars up to three feet long or more Very long, bars around a foot long

Performance Features

Motor Size

The larger and greater horsepower rating a chainsaw motor boasts, the longer you can run it and the more heavy-duty work you can accomplish. If you want to cut down large trees, a large motor is ideal, but if you plan to make lots of little cuts, such as chopping firewood, a smaller motor means less strain over time.

Air Intakes

Air intakes draw in air to keep your saw from overheating. The more advanced types of chainsaws have intakes that whip the air around to prevent particulates from entering and damaging the motor, which greatly extends the working life of your tool.

Starters

58631692-843D-4A85-A80F-C7F3615DBB98One of the most common complaints made about chainsaws is that the gas-powered models can be difficult to start. Some types of chainsaws have assisted starts so you can get them going with just one or two pulls from a cold start. The other alternatives are to purchase electric or battery-powered saws that start by a simple switch. Electric saws require an AC power source, such as a home or a generator. Cordless saws are simple to use but require a charger and ideally at least two batteries to keep you powered all day long.

Bar Length

The length of a saw’s bar determines the thickness of a piece which you can cut. The maximum size is equal to twice the length of the bar when you’re felling, provided you cut from both sides. For firewood, you want a bar as wide as your logs so you can cut pieces in a single pass.

Brakes

Chain brakes stop the saw almost instantly. Brakes are large switches between the bar and your hands, which trip if the saw kicks back. Depending on the type of chainsaw, they can stop the chain within a fraction of a second. To reduce instances of kickback, use only bars and chains designed to fit the saw’s design parameters.


Necessities

Extra Chains

57A1D535-E19D-4FA3-B9EA-BD69C4F66C45Make sure to bring along extra chains, especially if you’re cutting out in the woods. Keep at least two extras on hand to switch out in case you contact the chain with the ground, which can dull them instantly. Sharpeners run your chain through a machine to grind it down and keep it sharp. While sharpeners are very fast, they can remove more of a chain’s material than you might want. You can also use a file to sharpen your chains by hand. While they are not as fast as sharpening machines, files don’t remove as much material from the chain. Check your chain type to find out which sizes of files are compatible with its teeth.

Air Filters and Oil

Air filters catch particulates before they can make it into the inner workings of your saw. As you cut more and more pieces, air filters can easily fill up with sawdust and other particulate matter, which reduces their effectiveness. Keep an extra filter on hand to keep everything running smoothly. Also make sure you have sufficient bar oil to lubricate the chain. Getting to the filters or the bar to replace chains requires wrenches, so check the nut sizes and keep appropriate wrenches for your type of chainsaw handy.

Fuel Can

A large fuel can lets you keep a gas-powered saw running for a long time. Chainsaws often require fuel mixed with additives to run properly, so label your gas can to avoid using the wrong fuel. If you don’t plan to run your saw very frequently, drain the fuel back into the can between uses.


Accessories

Safety glasses protect your eyes from flying chips. Industrial earmuffs are essential, especially when you work on a long project. They keep the noise from the engine from damaging your hearing. Large face masks are effective at screening out all sorts of particles, and may be required by local ordinances. Carrying cases make it easy to transport your saw to the jobsite. They keep the chain from impacting objects and getting dull, and they also protect the saw from the weather.

Choosing the correct chainsaw for your specific needs is a simple matter, once you know what you need. With the right saw, accessories and care, you can get years or even decades of service from your saw. Check out our selection of top-rated chainsaws today to find the outdoor power equipment you need.

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